Atlanta Hawks: Frontcourt frustration, Backcourt explosion

For all the talent and ability of the Hawks’ relatively young frontcourt, and the assertion that they would be the reason for the ascension of the team….it’s been the backcourt that has the Hawks playing some of their most successful basketball since a 6-0 start to the season.

Winners in 8 of their last 10, the Hawks are right on the heels of the Magic and the Bulls (both sitting at 25-13), and have improved their road record (13-9) to third best in the East. Not only that, but they’re on a 5 game winning streak. And why? Mostly due to the simultaneous surge of guards Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford.

Good to go, down low? Yes and no

Prior to his injuries, forward Marvin Williams was playing some pretty good basketball for the Hawks, even in spite of some change in role (coming off the bench). Some may argue that his absence makes little or no difference. Say what you will, if you’re missing a guy who plays 30+ minutes for you a game, you’re missing an asset. It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow. It might not be in this matchup, or in that one. But sooner or later (more likely sooner), it hurts. As it is now, the concern is how quickly Marvin can heal, and will he get back to the effective play he displayed prior to injury?

Al Horford has played far more power forward this year than center, yet his numbers are at a career high level this season. He’s been the most consistent frontcourt starter, but the 2-foul rule has limited him at times. Big Al doesn’t always play like “The Boss”, though, and while he’s a double double threat every single night, there have been some nights where has been lacking on one side of the court, and sometimes where he’s not shown up on either. If Horford maintains a bit more consistency and comes with the bullish attitude of his first 2 or 3 years in the league, he’ll likely be an 18 and 10 guy, or close to it. And that’s just what the Hawks need to stay balanced.

Josh Smith has been a force at times on offense this season, and has had 20+ point outings in 4 of his last 7 games. Despite logging some heavy minutes at small forward, Smith has become a more consistent and effective rebounder (double figure rebounds in 9 of his last 13 games, 9 rebounds in 2 of them as well), and has kept up his assists. Here’s where Smith’s game tends to be most frustrating – while hitting on an unprecedented (and unexpected) 38% of his three point attempts, and raising his free throw percentage to a career high 72%, Smith’s tendencies to shoot errant jumpers has lowered his overall field goal percentage to 46%. Has Josh’s jumpshot improved significantly? Absolutely. Has his shot selection improved? Not really. The result is a continual display of multi-talent that blooms one day, then crashes the next. If Smith can become more consistent, he’s an all-star waiting to happen. If not, he’ll continue to be a very talented player who can alternately dazzle and frustrate. Sound like a recurring theme? It is.

 

Changing of the guards?  Hold that thought

Before the season began, many wanted to move Mike Bibby to the bench and trade Jamal Crawford. Others lamented the retention of Joe Johnson. Is the shoe now on the other foot? Maybe, maybe not. Jamal is still the one Hawk who probably gets mentioned the most in realistic trade talks by fans. I said realistic, not fanciful. And Joe? Well, there was that small matter or a maximum contract. But lately, things have been shaking out differently, enough so to make it look like all three guys are right where they should be, and where they are likely to remain.

Mike Bibby is only scoring about one point more per game than he did last season.  There hasn’t been much of a difference in his nmber of assists, either. You wouldn’t know that based on how he’s been playing, however. Bibby has become Mr. Big Shot for the Hawks once again, and he’s doing it in style. There’s a fluidity to his game in Head Coach Larry Drew’s offense that hasn’t been seen in a while. And, he’s no longer being hidden in a defensive scheme. The results? Bibby still struggles with the quicker guards in the League, but his defensive effort has been better. The real story might be in his shooting percentages. Bibby is currently shooting 45.8% from the field, his second highest field goal percentage in 14 seasons. On top of that, his career high 48.5% from 3 point range is good enough for third in the league, while his 83 treys made is good enough for fourth overall. Bibby’s ball control (4 apg, 1.4 TO per game) is top notch as well, and short of a blockbuster trade, there’s no reason to think he won’t finish out the season as the starter, and continue on into next season the same way.

Jamal Crawford may not get an extension from the Hawks before the season is over, but his performance in the last six games has only served to reinforce his on-court value to the team. The reigning Sixth Man of the Year has exploded for an average of 27.1 ppg in his last six contests, and thrown in 4 apg for good measure. In that span, Crawford has done it from everywhere, hitting 19 of 41 3 point attempts, and 40 of 45 free throws. Hold onto that SMOY trophy, and hold onto that trade talk. Jamal may not be going anywhere this season.

Nobody is happier about his recover than all-star guard Joe Johnson. After inexplicably struggling early in the season, Johnson had surgery on his right elbow, then came back to the lineup early. The initial results weren’t any prettier than before, though Johnson played within the offense and racked up quite a few assists. However, Smokin’ Joe set off his own pyrotechnics by averaging 27.2 ppg over his last five games, while shooting a whopping 52% from the field. Nobody expects this every week or every night….but isn’t it great to see Joe back in the swing of things?

Moving Forward

Will Joe and Jamal continue to sizzle from the perimeter? Can Al and Josh be consistent enough to balance the backcourt out? How long of a winning streak are the Hawks likely to be on? Could Atlanta catch and pass both Orlando and Chicago, and take possession of 3rd place in the East before the all-star break?

114 comments Add your comment

doc

January 13th, 2011
11:48 am

josh will bea better mid range shooter next season a al did between this year and last. he is so diligent in working on his game he continues to have upside. when he gets a good sports psychologist to work with ala john smoltz maybe the sky is the limit, until then he will continue to have dips and swings.

folks better go to some of these games because the offense is very fun to watch instead of woody ball. it should get better. anyone wanting to doubt jamal and his head now? werent there some here that thought he was malingering and being a bad head earlier. guess he is cured then.

yodaddy

January 13th, 2011
11:48 am

28th!

this article is spot on…the tides have turned….we should not trade anyone

niremetal

January 13th, 2011
11:50 am

Al Horford has played far more power forward this year than center,

Actually, while Al has spent way more time at PF this year than in past years, he still has played well over twice as many minutes at C as he has at PF:
http://www.82games.com/1011/10ATL12.HTM

doc

January 13th, 2011
12:11 pm

big ray those are the type of numbers for jj we were hoping for when we examined the potential of LD ball. i am very relieved to see it and am hopeful this injury is just a one time deal because he is still a stud.

you got to love the numbers and what seems like tremendous scoring efficiency by jamal right now as he is getting a lot of points per shot taken. again, it is my own cursory perspective but that is what you need from your scorers. it isnt something jj brings to the table because he gets so few foul calls, for whatever reason.

big ray not doubting it, but wake me up when we start missing marvin and what he brings to the table. josh and jj can handle most situations there, the big line up has worked well, jamal is back and mo is playing the position he needs to play and not pretend to be a S. that was a travesty plain and simple. marvin should be what is used as trade bait to get two guys that can ball instead of one who is a good guy but not a driven guy. he and teague need to go to dog training school together that along with someone to work on his balance overall so he doesnt get injured as much. either that or groom himself to be more of a PF than SF, like gain 15 pounds of muscle and begin to learn some more baseline moves, otherwise he might continue to be a lost soul.

maybe LD can find a place for him or maybe we wait until next year for him to be our bench guy to replace jamal. yup poor trade at that. maybe astro will begin to place more value on jamal now and less on marvin.

Astro Joe

January 13th, 2011
12:11 pm

Can anyone defend quick guards? When Derrick Rose plays Rajon Rondo, do they each put up less than their season averages? When Westbrook and CP3 lock horns, do they cancel each other out with less than stellar performances? Bibby was never a great individual defender and will only get worse with age but my guess is that the quicker PGs excel against a good 25+ teams, including other teams with PGs who are equally quick. I doubt that Rose, Rondo, Wall and Jennings (as an example) will suck against each other for the next 5+ years in our conference.

Veteran Fan

January 13th, 2011
12:19 pm

This is silly! We were lucky the Raptors were so bad last night! We were standing around taking fade away threes and jumpers and ignoring any inside to the basket offense. If Amir Johnson doesn’t pull that stupid foul and Jamal hit a 3 from near half court, we lose by 8 or 9. We need to take the ball to the bucket and get on the defensive boards period! Until Josh keeps his man off the defensive boards, instead of trying to outleap everyone, we will continue to be a middle of the pack team without home court advantage in the playoffs. JJ coming back has given us another long defender and a solid 15 point a night scorer, but still not playing worth the max contract(ie taking over games and overpowering his matchup)! We need to figure out how to play better and run more, which we do not do with JJ being so out of shape!

Astro Joe

January 13th, 2011
12:20 pm

doc, I think it is fool’s gold to expect Joe and Jamal to continue this level of play. At some point, this team will need to impose their will on the defensive end and that is when having someone like Marvin will be important. No, I’m not suggesting that Marvin is Bruce Bowen in comparison to other SFs across the league, but relative to the other options on this roster? He’s pretty darn close to Bruce Bowen. Watching the Raptors score 100 points doesn’t make me feel less worried about Marvin’s absence, nor does watching Barbosa light up the Hawks in the 2nd half.

Astro Joe

January 13th, 2011
12:21 pm

doc, nope, I most certainly will not place more value on Jamal now and less on Marvin. Sorry, ain’t happening.

niremetal

January 13th, 2011
12:23 pm

Yup. The idea of a lockdown defender is, frankly, a myth. No one locks down dominant offensive players. The most you can do is force them to take contested, lower-percentage shots. And against the very best, that often won’t do much good. What great defenders do, however, is do their best to make sure that their teammates don’t have to worry about having to help on every possession with the man he’s assigned to. That’s what Perkins does with Dwight and Bell/Battier with Kobe. We’ve got two guys (JJ and Marvin) who can do that against wings and one (Collins) against immovable objects. Unfortunately, we don’t have anyone who can do that against quick PGs or stretch bigs.

O'Brien

January 13th, 2011
1:39 pm

My guess is Jamal accepted the fact that Rick was not going to offer him an extension, so he decided to let his game do the talking.

Also, he said he would not give the Hawks any discount or first preference this offseason. That “new contract motivation” is helping to fuel his fire (imo).

Can both guys keep it up? I doubt it.

I expect them to return closer to their norm (20, 5 and 5 for JJ, 16 and 4 for Jamal). And when that happens, we will need the Josh, Al and Marvin to step up again.

MannyT

January 13th, 2011
1:47 pm

How about gear shift defender? The guy that makes a scorer work harder for his points than normal. Maybe that is the best we can expect of a big time NBA defender.

I would add to the Josh thing that playing SF seems to take away from his help defense/blocks and highlight the fact that he isn’t a big time, on ball defender. Not saying he’s bad, but his defensive strength is popping up to alter & block shots which is more difficult from the SF than the PF.

O'Brien

January 13th, 2011
1:54 pm

As for trading Jamal, the main reason why some fans wanted to trade him was to improve other areas of the team.

In a perfect world, the ASG would resign Jamal, and use the MLE, TPE, and the bi-annual exception to improve the bench.

But doing that would take them into luxury tax, and I dont see that happening.

The ASG said they would go into luxury tax for the right player. If Jamal continues to play well, and wins SMOY again, would he be worth going into the luxury tax (especially if his deal is reasonable)?

MannyT

January 13th, 2011
2:04 pm

Big Ray,

The Hawks need another contributor to make significant moves up the seeding ladder. It could be a trade or the emergence of Marvin or Jeff, but another player must emerge for big things to happen. Otherwise I stick by my preseason prediction – 3rd in the SE, 5th seed in the East. The Hawks should have made more progress in the “easier” part of the schedule while Miami was figuring out how to play w/each other & Orlando was reconfiguring the team. I think Orlando & Boston are the teams to beat with Miami just a step behind.

MannyT

January 13th, 2011
2:14 pm

O’Brien

The luxury tax is all about your payroll at the end of the season. Giving Jamal a new deal for next season won’t change this season’s luxury tax situation. However, we are close enough to the tax that Damien Wilkins gets the hokey pokey over a min salary deal.

The new collective bargaining agreement will determine the chances that we bring Jamal back. If things stay relatively the same, I think we move Marvin for a cheaper alternative if that $$ can keep Jamal or pay for a good replacement while keeping us under the luxury tax. If the CBA means budget cuts for all, Jamal is gone and the available $$ below the tax is what Sund uses to go shopping for the value players that have to deal with a lower wage scale.

That’s my best guess.

Astro Joe

January 13th, 2011
2:30 pm

Some won’t want to hear this, but the ASG (or any owner) shouldn’t cross the luxury line just to “lose better”. Using the TPE to acquire Corey Brewer or Chris Duhon (as an example) won’t likely be the difference in a 2nd round victory against the Heat, Celtics or Magic. So I think that if anything is done between now the the trade deadline, it will ultimately be a shuffling of deck chairs and little else. Now, with that said, would I trade Jamal, Evans and our 2011 1st round pick for Dalembert’s expiring contract? Yeah, because this team doesn’t seem to use late round picks very well and an upgrade at the center spot would help us tremendously without crossing the luxury tax threshold (or taking on long-term debt ahead of the new CBA). I have no delusions about Dalembert, he has awful hands, appears to have a low b-ball IQ and appears disinterested in at least half his games. But on a team with legit 2nd round expectations and the chance to finish a contract year on the playoff stage, yeah, I’d make that gamble all day long. And Sac-town may give him up for a net gain of a 1st round pick.

doc

January 13th, 2011
2:31 pm

yeah manny t, nice summary of options the way we play the game to date. attendance is so poor it is very unrealistic to amp things up unless a run is made in playoffs to bring in folks next year with renewed enthusiasm much like that generated when they popped off three against the C’s.

it is funny/sad to still see so many thinking we had an option of what to pay jj. he was going to get it big time, say the knicks forwards and backwards, and we would have fallen quickly off the pace and be in the doldrums.

Astro Joe

January 13th, 2011
3:16 pm

doc, I was thinking the other day that if Joe walked and then he went on a comparable 5 game tear (like his current run), that many around here would be likely climbing to the rooftop with rifle in hand. And given the way the Knicks are playing, had Joe gone to the Knicks and teamed with Chandler, Amare and Felton? Oh my!

doc

January 13th, 2011
4:01 pm

knicks would love to have him i bet and be pressing the big boys.

MannyT

January 13th, 2011
4:02 pm

hey doc

Sometimes, it reminds me of the losing seasons when I walk around Philips these days. Place is quite empty. The way they reshuffled the seating deals, most of my regular seat neighbors didn’t renew. I like my seat in the middle of the 200s, but the camaraderie isn’t there.

There is no home field advantage in Philips unless the team enjoys peaceful surroundings.

Not sure if the crowd is coming once football ends either. Makes it a tricky spot for ownership. Why invest if you don’t expect a return on that money?

MannyT

January 13th, 2011
4:06 pm

Astro,

Would you go after Sam Bowie, er, Greg Oden, as a restricted free agent during the summer? Portland has a few extra bigs and he’s got potential & health baggage, so he may be the easiest to get.

I ask b/c I’d prefer one of Portland’s spares (Camby, Oden, Pryzbilla) to Dalambert next season.

dooley

January 13th, 2011
4:16 pm

we need more alley oops from josh smith like were used to watching.they really feed off his energy.larry drew should find more ways to use his jumping abilities and smark the team because the last 3 years in the playoffs,wen josh smith gets to dunking and playing unstoppable,the hawks play unstoppable.Josh needs improvement on his low post scoring so u use his best abilities and start throwing the alley off the tip again.ld is using his players the wrong way.how is it the highlight factory wen the highlights keep getting cut down.they should call staples center the highlight factory because blake griffin is the highlights

O'Brien

January 13th, 2011
4:53 pm

Which team is more dangerous? This Hawks team with JJ, or the Knicks team if they had JJ?

It’s a toss up for me. But I think JJ and Felton in the backcourt Amare in the frontcourt, and shooters spread out would be tough.

However. I was in favor of a resigned JJ, although I was hoping he would have given us a slight discount.

With him taking the max 6 year deal, he should not be surprised if Jamal leaves for more money elsewhere because the ASG cannot afford to pony up.

jlewis

January 13th, 2011
5:47 pm

Just an observation, but i think almost every team in the league would take JJ, you dont know what you have until its gone. Also, why are we comparing the Hawks and trades for players off losing teams, the Hawks are in the top 4 in the east, that puts them in the top 8 in the league. There are very few options, lets just hope we keep getting better. Additionally, I love Jamal too, but the economics of the NBA wont pay him big money, I wish he could get it, but wont happen.

O'Brien

January 13th, 2011
6:05 pm

MannyT,

I think Portland will keep Oden.

Speaking of Portland, this just in on SportsCenter. Brandon Roy will undergo arthroscopic surgery on both knees, with no timetable for his return. Ouch.

O'Brien

January 13th, 2011
6:15 pm

AJ,

If the Hawks had use the TPE on Brewer, and used the MLE on Shaq (for example), maybe that would have translated to more regular season wins.

And with more regular season wins, maybe they end up as the third seed, instead of the 4th/5th seed.

As the 3rd seed, they play the second seed in the second round, while as the 4th/5th seed, they play the #1 seed in the second round.

So who is to say they couldn’t beat the #2 seed in the second round if they had more weapons than they do now?

Obviously, its all hypothetical…

Roller

January 13th, 2011
7:14 pm

As for Atl catching and passing Chi & Orlando, “yes” they can. But we’re missing a piece or two. I’m an original hawks fan, from the day they arrived here, and I pull for them every night. Although we’re talented, we’re far from being stacked! Joe, Jamal, Al are keepers. But Josh and Marvin are expendable. Marvin’s a first round joke, even at this stage, and although Josh has slightly improved this year. He’s still a pain to watch most nights. He never gives his all, and consistently shows “no” fundamentals of the game. You’d think by now he’d know to give the ball up on the break, develop a solid overhead outlet pass, etc. Yet he prances down the court with no affection for the game. As if he’s really trying to live up to this Ryan Cameron “J Smooth” bs! With the talent he does have, just think if he’d lay it on the floor a la Dennis Rodman. But then DR kept himself in shape. Josh is winded after several trips down the floor…..am I the only one that notices this? If we can give Jamal his due dollars, we’re set at the guards. We need help at the 3 position, and I wouldn’t hesitate one minute to package both Marvin & Josh in a trade deal. Neither of their attitudes will allow them to get much better than they are currently. If you watch them carefully you’ll see exactly what I’m pointing to now. We need six foot 9-10″ ball players, not six foot 9-10″ “diva’s”!

newkid

January 13th, 2011
8:24 pm

AJ, that cannot be a serious trade proposal in your 2:30 p.m. post, can it? Jamal (who’s expiring), Mo (who’s expiring), AND a !st for Dalembert (who I think is expiring as well)? Do you honestly think Dalembert’s value through the stretch run and in the 1st round is superior to JCross, Mo, AND a 1st? WOW! Just WOW!

Big Ray

January 13th, 2011
8:27 pm

MannyT ,

I agree. It takes the emergence of someone on the existing roster, or the addition of such a player through trade.

But…that’s where all the arguments begin. Who needs to step up is the question. May as well go ahead and say Josh Smith to save time. I think I’ve heard every argument as to why it’s just so ridiculous to expect growth out of anybody else….well, depending on who the flavor of the week is, that is…

Big Ray

January 13th, 2011
8:29 pm

jlewis ,

Yep, can’t think of too many teams that would pass on JJ (though not for the money we were forced to pay him). JJ fits any team that is able and willing to balance the roster…and even those that aren’t. And he’s better than so many at his position.

Big Ray

January 13th, 2011
8:32 pm

dooley ,

Agreed. But Josh Smith has to realize that you don’t get alley oops when you spot up 20 feet away from the basket. If he runs off screens more or simply uses his speed an elusiveness to slash to the basket, few can run and jump with him. And, this would make teams respect that move (and it might open up the floor just a bit).

Something tells me LD is not telling him “screw that alley-oop stuff, shoot that 20-footer to get yourself on track offensively!”

Big Ray

January 13th, 2011
8:33 pm

Roller ,

Ok, I’ll bite. Josh and Marvin for…..who?

Astro Joe

January 13th, 2011
8:52 pm

MannyT, the one and only reason I suggested Dalembert is because of his expiring contract AND availability. Camby has another year left on his deal and I doubt is available for expiring deals. Pryzbilla can’t stay on the court more than 5 games before getting hurt again and Oden can’t help us this year.

newkid, as I just mentioned, it’s about both need, availability and finances. Tyson Chandler has an expiring deal but he isn’t likely available. But to answer your question, I would take a center specializing in defense over a wing who specializes in offense during the home stretch and into the playoffs (assuming they both play comparable minutes). The trade I suggested is a net lost of a draft pick for us, no impact to next year’s salary structure. When studying the Hawks’ recent draft history, I simply can’t project too much value in a 20-something draft pick selected by this front office. I’d rather have a strong defensive center who can keep Al at PF (and isn’t just a token starter).

O'Brien

January 13th, 2011
10:43 pm

One thing to keep in mind, is that although Jamal is balling out of his mind right now, it is defense and rebounding that wins in the playoffs.

So I doubt if Jamal will be going off against Miami, Boston, Spurs, Orlando, Lakers etc in a best of 7 series. Teams that play defense will make it difficult for Jamal to score. And when that happens, his tendency (good or bad) is to try and shoot out of it.

To win those games, we need to defend and rebound (in addition to scoring of course). But defense and rebounding is more likely to win in the playoffs over offense.

So I am cool with rolling the dice on Dalembert. But I am not giving up a first round pick in the deal.

Another reason for getting Dalembert, is maybe we can resign him next year for cheaper than what Jamal will cost. And if we lose Jamal, at least we have Jordan who has the potential to develop into a poor man’s Jamal.

O'Brien

January 13th, 2011
10:55 pm

Orlando losing to OKC, which means the Hawks would jump over them in the East. Yes.

And with Miami playing in Denver, possibly without LeBron, we could pick up a game there too if Miami loses.

doc

January 14th, 2011
1:06 am

manny t, not sure what has happened along the way only it is scary to go to games now the interest is so low. any goodwill from the celts victories were trashed by the increase in prices for tix this past summer. many folks said no thanks and we were folks that had stayed even during the downturn in the economy. geez attendance was better then than now so it doesnt make sense at all.

i have to shake my head and really wonder who did it to themselves with that action that left so many cold along with the blow out by the magic and little in the way of notorious shake ups like trades, acquisitions and coaching hires. i am not saying that we would be better if those things would have happened only perception would have changed and possibly attendance increased.

i think they felt they had a trump card and had nothing of the sort. man they are offering tix to season ticket owners at 10 a pop saturday and monday. that is creepy.

jlewis

January 14th, 2011
1:46 am

Big Ray:

I’m sure you read MC’s evaluation of players, what is the love affair with AL? The guy plays no defense and where is this toughness everyone sees, to me, AL has a low b-ball IQ. Your thoughts

Atl fan

January 14th, 2011
3:59 am

Just something to think about. Is there any kind trade package we can put together 2 trade for Melo. Just say! Star power, not saying jj not good but melo give you that competitive edge that the team can feed off of. Maybe jj teague & marvin. Then try & pick up a decide center such as camby. Just a thought!
But really pick up a center camby,chandler,
Enter your comments here

O'Brien

January 14th, 2011
7:28 am

@ doc,

One move that would have brought more excitement and more energy to the fan base (and possibly more national exposure too), was if the ASG had signed Shaq. And if the Hawks had Shaq, and Boston doesn’t, maybe that’s a 2 game swing in the standings.

I know there were Chemistry concerns (and rightfully so), but I think they should have rolled the dice.

Another move I suggested was to sign TMac (low risk, high reward player) who I think still has a lot of fans out there. Unfortunately, Mo Evans decided to stick around and collect his $2.5 mil salary (thanks to Rick for giving him a 3rd year), so TMac might have been redundant.

My schedule and location does not allow me to see many games at the Highlight factory, but the impression I get is the ASG does not do a good job of marketing their product (team or individual players).

O'Brien

January 14th, 2011
7:37 am

jlewis

Al can be accused of many things on the court, (playing soft sometimes, being timid, taking too long to make his move etc) but I don’t think low bball IQ is one of them.

Ask his Florida coach Billy Donovan (who credited Al for being a big reason why they won 2 NCAA titles), ask Woody (who said Al was not the typical rookie, because he was ready from game 1), and ask LD (who gives him a lot of credit).

And the Hawks have made the playoffs every year since they drafted Al.

And just from watching the game, I really don’t see how you came up with the idea that Al has low bball IQ. I think you’ll be in a very small minority who feel that way.

Astro Joe

January 14th, 2011
8:28 am

doc, with the Falcons doing very well qand the Thrashers playing much, much better thaqn normal, any chaqnce that the Hawks are losing out to other pro sports teams in terms of ticket purchasing? In terms of news stories, the Hawks are third compared to those other teams (even I want to go and check out the Thrashers in the next few weeks).

tony

January 14th, 2011
8:54 am

Sign Jamal Crawford too a long term contract. I have more confident in him than anyone else on the team. Jamal Crawford is a championship caliber player. I’m glad we have a coach who realize the importance of giving Jamal the freedom to attack teams defense. Jamal has the IT FACTOR!

steve brown

January 14th, 2011
9:01 am

This is the entertainment business and I ask you who on this team is the most exciting player to watch-I say Jamal Crawford. I also feel he may be this years MVP thus far. Not having him signed is depressing. Does Rick Sund realize he is in the entertainment business-I never hear him say anything about anything. On Marvin Williams-he is one of those players that for some reason always gets hurt and probably always will.

vava74

January 14th, 2011
9:14 am

My two grains of salt:

1. Yes, we have been winning, but lately we have been doing it the wrong way.

Winning with jump shots from outside and trying to out shoot opponents will not get us far in the playoffs.

As soon as Jamal gets back to his FG% average and JJ hits a mini-slump we will probably be in trouble.

2. Hence, the question is, will the Hawks and LD respond by changing their play depending on who’s clicking?

And by changing our play I mean playing D and looking to score inside.

3. Notwithstanding the above, it should be noted that:

Both JJ and Jamal’s recent offensive outbursts have been possible (enhanced) due to LD’s offense.

An interesting factor is that, although they are shooting a lot and well, they have also been to line more consistently (JJ is now averaging the same number of FT he did 2 years ago IN LESS MINUTES).

4. I could not watch these past few games, only parts of games, but I did whatch the whole first half against TOR and a few things stuck out:

Jamal was unstoppable but he was also stopping absolutely no one. Look at Barbosa’s numbers and they are not too far behind Jamal’s (for instance, Jamal had 14 points in the second quarter, to go along with ZERO assists, steals or rebounds – Barbosa had 13 points in the same second quarter to go along with 3 assists, 2 rebounds and 1 steal, making his contribution more valuable).

Jamal hit a slump (3rd quarter) and our lead was gone. Take notes LD: remove Jamal as soon as he misses 2 shots in a row.

Teague had a very decent first shift. He got to the line twice in the two possessions he called his own number. That is something we do not get from Bibby.

He cannot be blamed for the fact that Smoove and Jamal jacked up bad shots and Jamal was non-existent on D. He even took the blame for a TO which I believe was not his responsibility but Jamal’s.

On D he was not to blame for anything going wrong on courts during that first shift:

There was a pick in which he had to go under and Bayless’ entry pass produced a bucket but heck, that’s nit picking);

and

He got called for a foul on a possession where he forced his opponent to drive to the baseline with him hardly making any contact.

Since I did not see his second shift I cannot opinionate on how he ended up being the worse (+-) player on the court (his second turnover was bad or again the blame of someone else) BUT one cannot disregard the following:

Teague’s second shift was:

a) When the team’s lead was already free falling;
b) He was on the floor with Zaza, Jamal – slumping at that time, Mo and Al (which seemingly was not playing any D) – which is hardly a consistent line up.

For once I would like to see Teague get the benefit of a 6/7 minute shift with JJ, Smoove and Al on the floor and with specific instructions from LD to be the lead guard.

5. Kudos for LD: he plays Mo at the SG slot and JJ at the SF slot in the absence of Marvin.

Mo may not be the most productive guy on earth but he clearly belongs at the SG slot and not at the SF.

This way is not over matched and his hustle produces results (for instance that first quarter offensive rebound + lay up which is something he would not be able to do if he had to get back to D).

steve brown

January 14th, 2011
9:21 am

Mo must be blackmailing or bribing Coach for his minutes-I just don’t get it.

vava74

January 14th, 2011
9:34 am

tony, steve brown,

That’s a typical reaction, but an incorrect one.

Jamal is non existent on D. When he is hot he helps but his career FG% clearly shows that his shot selection and his own self control are poor, making him many times a “DOUBLE LIABILITY” on the floor.

I don’t deny that watching Jamal cooking is exciting but when he had those 50 points games in the past where did those teams ended? And what did that bring to his career?

He has been a journeyman in the league for a reason.

No one in the NBA thinks about Jamal as being much more than what he actually is: a very talented but “on-off” offensive player who should be used carefully.

LD has been managing his minutes and his game reasonably well but he is far from being our MVP.

O'Brien

January 14th, 2011
9:38 am

vava,

I said the same thing yesterday. In the playoffs, I dont see Jamal going off against good defensive teams. And he will try and shoot himself (and the team) out of it.

LD needs to monitor him very closely ( but puling him after 2 misses in a row is too quick of a hook though imo).

From ajc.com;

“Good teams that have engaged the Hawks in tightly-contested games usually beat them because Atlanta can’t make key defensive stops.

Often that’s because Atlanta’s guards get beat off the dribble. That leads to open jumpers, drive-and-dishes for easy shots or baskets on offensive rebounds because Atlanta’s big men are constantly helping.

Those breakdowns will make it difficult for the Hawks to win tight games in the postseason, when simply outscoring opponents is not a winning strategy.” MC .

Defense and rebounding is what wins championships. And even in our wins, we dont see defense and rebounding consistently, mainly because we dont have the personnel.

steve brown

January 14th, 2011
9:46 am

I didn’t see anyone else stop Barbosa. JJ and Horford are the only complete players we have, but are they as exciting as Jamal, I don’t think so. I go with Jamal, JJ and Horford versus Smith, JJ and Horford. My top 5 Hawk player ranking:
JJ
Horford
Jamal
Smith
Bibby

tony

January 14th, 2011
10:21 am

Last season we didn’t have LD calling the shots. Mike Woodson didn’t use Jamal Crawford as an offensive weapon and that’s why he doesn’t coach this team anymore. Heck, JJ and JS would seldom pass the ball to Jamal Crawford last season because they feared that he would take the spot light off of them. If they had any sense they would of known that Jamal could have helped them go deep into the playoffs.

Last season Jamal played timid as if he was trying not to offend his teammates(JJ/JS). Players cannot perform up to their abilities if they feel unwanted or feel that members(JJ/JS) on the team got something against the way they play.the game.

I see the difference in Jamal’s confidence from last season since LD has taken over the team. LD knows where his bread and butter is which is a good thing. When every member on that team GETS IT the skys the limit.

Astro Joe

January 14th, 2011
10:25 am

Tony, so how, exactly, did Jamal win the SMOY if not for being used as an offensive weapon? Because he was a shut-down defender?

jlewis

January 14th, 2011
10:28 am

O’Brien:

Thats just my observation, also remember, his college team had Brewer and Noah on it, and had Noah come out earlier, he would have been the number 1 pick. I never go on Coach Speak, I go on what I see, and Al makes a lot of bonehead plays, trying to dribble it on the fast break and jump in the air and turn it over. When Josh does it people scream, when Al does it he gets a pass because of the way he handles himself off the court.

He doesnt guard his positione well, be it power forward or center, and if his pick and roll defense was so great, he would know how to hedge it and get back to his man instead of being stuck on a guard. I just go by what I see and that’s my opinion.